According to The Washington Post, which obtained a copy of the document, McConnell told his colleagues that proceedings would most likely occur after President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated.
If the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives impeaches Trump, McConnell told his colleagues, the articles would reach the upper chamber one day before Biden’s inauguration.
The upper chamber will not reconvene for substantive business until then, although it is scheduled to hold two pro forma sessions next week.
Absent agreement from all lawmakers, McConnell would not be able to begin the trial before Jan. 19, the memo stressed.
“Again, it would require the consent of all 100 senators to conduct any business of any kind during the scheduled pro forma sessions prior to January 19, and therefore the consent of all 100 senators to begin acting on any articles of impeachment during those sessions.”
If the House impeaches Trump in the coming days and the upper chamber does not reconvene, McConnell wrote, the proceedings would begin on Jan. 19. On that day or the day after, the Democrats would “exhibit the articles.” On Jan. 20 or 21 the Senate would officially begin the trial.
The memo noted that the proceeding “would therefore begin after President Trump’s term has expired — either one hour after its expiration on January 20, or twenty-five hours after its expiration on January 21.”
According to The Washington Post, this means that Democrat Chuck Schumer, the incoming Senate Majority Leader, would need to take up the impeachment effort. It remains unclear if he would be willing to do so, since such a move would distract from Biden’s early days in office and potentially delay the confirmation of his Cabinet picks.
In the wake of violent attacks on the U.S. Capitol, top Democrats threatened to remove Trump from office and called on him to resign.
On Thursday, as CBS News reported, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and oust Trump.
Pelosi said that Trump “has committed an unspeakable assault on our nation, and our people,” saying that if Pence and members of the Cabinet do not act, the U.S. Congress will have to.
She added that Trump is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” and accused him of “inciting sedition.”
According to reports, Cabinet officials have decided against invoking the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to remove Trump, but they have vowed to defy any unlawful orders.